Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Saudi women attend football match for first time

Saudi women attend football match for first time

Dressed in headscarves and long flowing abbayas the women filed into the stadium, ushered by women in orange T-shirts over their conservative dress, to take up seats at the "family section" of the stands, separate from the male spectators.

Saudi Arabia has allowed women to spectate at a stadium sporting event for the first time.

The first stadium is to open its doors to women in the Red Sea city of Jiddah today.

Three Saudi Arabian stadiums - the King Abdullah Stadium, the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, and Prince Mohammed bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam - have been outfitted with special family sections for women to sit during matches.

"Honestly this decision should have happened a long time ago", said Muneera al-Ghamdi, an attendee.

Saudi Arabia, which was the only country in the world to forbid female drivers, past year also allowed women to drive in the country.

Women could attend the match after strict gender segregation was eased by authority in October previous year.

A football match on Saturday in the capital Riyadh will also be welcoming women fans.

Many young Saudis regard his recent ascent to power as proof their generation is taking a central place in running a country whose patriarchal traditions have for decades made power the province of the old and blocked women's progress.

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